Summary: Studying the response of Jesus to the devil's temptation lays a foundation for the child of God to withstand temptation.

“Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.’ But he answered, ‘It is written,

“Man shall not live by bread alone,

but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”’

“Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,

“He will command his angels concerning you,”


“On their hands they will bear you up,

lest you strike your foot against a stone.”’

“Jesus said to him, ‘Again it is written, “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.”’ Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, ‘All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Be gone, Satan! For it is written,

“You shall worship the Lord your God

and him only shall you serve.”’

“Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.” [1]

Youth today think they have the inside scoop on current genres of music. Lost in their own world, their earbuds blocking all sound but their music, youth appear convinced that people of advanced age know nothing about music, forgetting such music forms as swing, jazz, rock, blues and even rap. Young people appear convinced that they invented the alliterative rhyming that is known as rap. Our young people need to learn there is nothing new under the sun. Long years ago, alliteration and rhyming defined a certain genre of music that captured the attention of younger people who lived in that far distant day. I guess that youth today have never heard of Nervous Norvus. [2]

Jimmy Drake, a truck driver living in Oakland, California, recorded his first hit, “Transfusion,” in 1956, identifying as Nervous Norvus. The novelty song rose to number fourteen on the charts in that year.

Tooling down the highway doing 79

I'm a twin pipe papa and I'm feelin’ fine

Hey man dig that, was that a red stop sign–


Transfusion, transfusion,

I'm just a solid mess of contusions

Never, never, never gonna’ speed again

Slip the blood to me Bud [3]

Long before Beyoncé, when Rihanna was just a twinkle in her mother’s eye, before 50 Cent or Keyshia ever warbled a tune, there was Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. These young musicians from the Bronx transformed what was becoming known as Hip-hop to address social issues of the day. One of their biggest hits was a song entitled, “The Message.” The chorus of that song voices a lament sadly familiar to deprived souls living in the inner-city area. One verse goes,

A child is born with no state of mind

Blind to the ways of mankind

God is smiling on you, but he's frowning too

Because only God knows what you'll go through

You'll grow in the ghetto living second-rate

And your eyes will sing a song called deep hate

The places you play and where you stay

Looks like one great big alleyway

You'll admire all the number-book takers

Thugs, pimps and pushers and the big money-makers

Driving big cars, spending twenties and tens

And you'll wanna’ grow up to be just like them, huh

Smugglers, scramblers, burglars, gamblers

Pickpocket peddlers, even panhandlers

You say “I'm cool, huh, I'm no fool.”

But then you wind up dropping outta’ high school

Now you're unemployed, all null and void

Then, the chorus laments,

Don't push me cause I'm close to the edge

I'm trying not to lose my head

It’s like a jungle sometimes

it makes me wonder how I keep from going under [4]

I’m speaking to people who could voice those same lyrics. You are exhausted trying to keep up with life. It’s like a jungle sometimes, and you wonder how you keep from going under. I don’t want to give the devil more than he is due, but we are under constant attack by the world, the flesh and the devil. There is enough temptation from the world. Our senses are constantly assailed by the alluring call from the denizens of this dying world to surrender to “the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and the pride of life” [see 1 JOHN 2:16]. It’s like a jungle sometimes.

You work to the point of exhaustion so you can provide a better life for your family, and the government politely takes a chunk of your life in order to provide for those who won’t work or to ensure that the politicians can make another junket to study life in the Mediterranean. It’s like a jungle sometimes.

You come home exhausted and decide to watch a little television to quit thinking about how much you owe. But the shows you try to watch are a constant litany of death and destruction in innovative ways. And when the actors are not killing one another, they are seducing one another. Your Christian heart is grieved by the violence and the raw sexuality that culture mavens want to rub your face in. It’s like a jungle sometimes.

You have plenty of people trying to take advantage of you, smiling to your face and angling to find a way to stab you in the back. Welcome to the jungle.

You were married and dreamed of a life growing old together, and now your marriage is under attack. You’re divorced and dreams you once held about what should have been now seem to rise up to mock you. You know it’s like a jungle sometimes.

I understand that people think the Christian life is to never have a problem, to never face a trial, to never hurt. You’ve heard preachers say that if you’d just become a Christian all your problems would disappear, but I’m here to tell you that being a Christian means that you will face hell on a regular basis. It’s like a jungle sometimes.

You are attacked, and you know that if the world, the flesh, and the devil could do so, you would be turned from ever serving God again. You get your life under control and your child breaks your heart by sinning against God. You are fighting for your daughter’s purity. You’re fighting for your son’s integrity. You are fighting for your honour, for your spouse’s honour, and you just can’t seem to get a break from the battle. It’s like a jungle sometimes.

You come to church and you think, “If people knew what I’ve been going through, they’d be asking how I keep from going under. If they knew the hurt I’ve experienced, if they knew the terror I’ve felt, if they knew the struggles I’ve faced this week, they’d be asking how I haven’t lost my head.” It’s like a jungle sometimes.

Here’s the thing, despite all you’ve faced, you’re standing and not sinking. You’re in church and you are seeking the face of the Lord. You have resisted the flesh, and you want some strength. You refused to give in to the world, and you want to keep on standing. You’ve resisted the devil, and you long for God’s strength.

Every follower of Christ who shares in worship today is engaged in a spiritual battle. We are at war, and you are fighting against a merciless and vicious foe. If He cannot kill you, he will certainly maim you and do all within his power to hinder your effective service to the Risen Saviour. Peter, the Apostle to the Jews, urges followers of the Risen Saviour, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” [1 PETER 5:8].

Peter is telling us that the devil seeks to destroy the follower of the Lord, not merely harry her. If the evil one was able to harass the Apostle with a “thorn in the flesh” [see 2 CORINTHIANS 12:7], you may be certain that he is capable of harrying, harassing and hassling you. Tragically, many of the saints of the Most High God have stumbled into the snare of the devil [see 2 TIMOTHY 2:26]; they have succumbed to His nefarious schemes [see EPHESIANS 6:11]. What is worse, too many of the redeemed continue to stumble into the devil’s snares which litter the path along which we must walk.

We definitely know that Satan will take captive those who have no relationship to the Risen Son of God [see 2 TIMOTHY 2:26], and we need not doubt that he would do the same with us, ensuring that we are rendered ineffective. He blinds the eyes of unbelievers [see 2 CORINTHIANS 4:4], and from the attitudes of some who occupy the pews and even the pulpits of some of our churches, he is even blinding now the eyes of many who profess the Name of Christ. The wicked one is certainly capable of causing the unwary saint to stumble [see 1 TIMOTHY 3:7]. He torments the thoughtless and the unwary among the people of God, destroying their flesh when they are deprived of the protection of the assembly of the righteous [see 1 CORINTHIANS 5:5]. They are deprived through negligence and through an exaggerated opinion of their own strength.

We who are followers of Christ are at war! Here’s the thing that is sometimes neglected—this war will continue throughout all the days of this life. The Wise Man was correct when he wrote, “No one is discharged during battle” [ECCLESIASTES 8:8b CSB]. Not until Jesus returns and the devil is defeated will the faithful be excused from this battle. It is precisely because we are at war that we need the message of grace and assurance of victory. It is precisely because we are at war that we need one another. For this reason, it is important that you be careful about what you listen to and who you hang around with. Those with whom you hang out will influence you either for good or for evil. Your associations are either making you stronger or they are tearing you down.

If you hang out with people that drink, it won’t be long until you are drinking your favourite beverage with them. You will excuse your willingness to drink, even to excess, because you don’t want to offend those with whom you associate. If you hang out with people that do drugs, you will shortly attempt to try to find an escape from the pressures of life through a needle or with a line of powder. If you hang out with people that cuss and use coarse language, your language will shortly reflect your friends. If you hang out with prayer warriors who pray, you will soon begin to pray.

If you learned to talk back to the devil, you’d say, “Devil in hell, I won’t let you steal my joy, my peace or my productivity.” You are determined that he won’t have your child or your hope. You are determined that you will look to Christ the Lord and that He will be your strength. It’s like a jungle sometimes, but you know Him who is King over that jungle. You’ve witnessed Him as He conquered the evil one. Now, we’re going to study what happened on one occasion when Jesus was tempted, because when we witness Him during that time, we can learn how to stand firm ourselves.

TEMPTED — The opening words of this pericope are startling. We read, “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” [MATTHEW 4:1]. The Father not only permitted the Master to be tempted, the Spirit of God led the Saviour into the desert precisely so He would be tempted! The Father meant for the Master to be tempted; and He sometimes means for us to be tempted!

The concept is difficult to accept precisely because we don’t enjoy unpleasantness, we don’t enjoy experiencing hardship. We question why Holy God would send His Son to be tempted. We argue that such temptation isn’t necessary! Surely, God doesn’t want us to be tempted! Yet, Jesus was tempted, just as we are tempted. Do you remember reading this assessment of Jesus temptation? “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” [HEBREWS 4:14-16].

Hardships, temptations or trials are necessary if we ever hope to progress beyond merely existing. In this context, recall the Apostle’s assessment of his own trials, applying the concept to your own life. Paul has written, “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows—and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses—though if I should wish to boast, I would not be a fool, for I would be speaking the truth; but I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me. So, to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” [2 CORINTHIANS 12:2-10].

Focus on the revelation concerning trials in the last two verses the Apostle wrote. Paul testified, “I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” [2 CORINTHIANS 12:9b-10]. How well are you handling weakness, insult, hardship, persecution, or calamities? Such unpleasantness will come; and often these disagreeable conditions become the excuse for quitting; the temptation becomes permission to look for an easier way to accomplish what God desires in your life. We need to take to heart the Apostolic instruction delivered to the young pastor of the congregation in Ephesus: “Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus” [2 TIMOTHY 2:3].

You see, we think of temptations as confined to the realm of solicitations to act in an evil manner, to succumb to unholy desires, but quitting when God is calling us to push through the trial so that His power may be manifested through us is evil. To refuse to continue at the hard task when God is calling us to stand firm is sinful. We don’t think of such action as sinful, but it is a form of lese majesté, a traitorous act as we turn from doing what He has called us to and for which He supplies strength and ability. To refuse to continue at the hard task when He has called us to that task is wicked. Don’t give up! Don’t quit, child of God! Keep on keeping on! He is still standing with you.

WITHSTANDING TEMPTATION — We live in an age dependent upon psychology to guide our lives. Psychologist and sociologists are convinced that they can explain why we act as we do. These modern shamans are just chock-a-block full of recommendations for how we can make our lives better, more fulfilling. Seldom do their suggestions work, but that doesn’t mean they quit trying—we are persistent in pursuing our own way. For instance, psychologists have multiple ideas on how we can overcome temptation.

Some well-meaning psychologists tell us that we should just surrender to the temptation. The theory these bright folks operate from is an assurance that when someone is sated, that person won’t succumb to temptation any longer. In their estimate, the individual will be full, and thus they won’t want more of whatever has been tempting them. This concept is tantamount to counselling the individual to become an Epicurean, or to become a Bacchanalian, at least as these philosophical concepts are understood in the popular view. The idea is that in satisfying one’s personal desires, the individual is empowered to overcome temptation.

The concept is destined to fail—without exception. One incredibly detrimental consequence of attempting to utilise this approach to overcoming temptation is that an individual can do real, lasting harm while trying to sate his or her appetites. Our fleshly appetites will destroy us. Some of those appetites require a little more time than others to destroy us, but all our appetites can be destructive in the final analysis. When our appetites usurp priority over us, they become destructive temptations.

At other times, we are advised to try substituting an activity that is innocuous for whatever is tempting us. “Think about something else,” we are advised. Have you ever tried to do that? Let me speak to the men for a moment. You are tempted on quite an ongoing basis to feed your fleshly appetite by viewing pornography. It is ubiquitous. You can’t look at television without being tempted to watch the most intimate activities between people getting all hot and bothered with one another. You try to do an online search on one of the popular search engines, and porn sites are suggested with alarming regularity. Even news items gravitate to the salacious, to that which is unnecessarily exhibitionist. I’m uncertain how calendar girls or articles about who appeared nude in an ad, make us more intelligent, but it does occur regularly. Under such constant assault, apply the psychological fix of substituting something else. How does that work?

Here’s an idea! How about studying how Jesus handled temptation? Remember the statement that we read just a short while ago? “We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” [HEBREWS 4:15]. Well, we have the extended version of Jesus as He withstood temptation provided in our text! Satan tempted the Master in three major areas to which all of us can relate—possessions, pride and power.

Satan tempted the Master to give in to his hunger, performing a miracle by transforming some of the many stones that littered the ground to bread. This would provide Jesus with something to eat. Could Jesus create bread from stones? With one word, the Master could have created a feast in the wilderness to assuage His hunger. Jesus was hungry! It couldn’t have been otherwise; He had been fasting for forty days! He was not merely hungry; He was weak from His extended fast. His fat reserves were depleted; He was experiencing loss of muscle mass as His body sought to conserve vital function.

When starving, a person’s mind fixates on food. Even if the deprivation is voluntary, as when the individual is fasting, the mind focuses on the normal desire for food. It is no different if the deprivation is involuntary, imposed through some external condition imposed on the individual, the mind focuses on the desire for food. Eventually, however, the starving person loses all interest in food. This loss of focus on food usually happens just before death. Nevertheless, when food has been strictly rationed, the body fairly screams out for food. When people have been deprived of food for extended periods, those who rescue them must restrain them from gorging themselves because too much food will make them ill. The point of this is to acknowledge that Jesus was hungry! The text is careful to inform us of this fact. Do you recall this commentary? “After fasting forty days and forty nights, He was hungry” [MATTHEW 4:2].

In His time of extreme hunger, the Master was vulnerable. Seizing on this vulnerability, Satan employed a stratagem that has worked on peoples throughout history—he attempted to seduce the Master to address His physical needs. Jesus was hungry. Therefore, there was nothing inherently wrong with wanting to care for His physical needs. Satan attacks you in the same area. You decide you will fast in order to focus on seeking the mind of the Father, and you are distracted by visions of food flitting through your mind. You are making the effort to give yourself to prayer, and you find it is almost impossible to keep from drifting off to sleep. You are pleased with your wife, but you opened the eye-gate by looking at some airbrushed scene engineered to reveal a woman engaged in sexual activity. Now, you can’t stop thinking about gratifying your sexual urges. You forget the biblical injunction, “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous” [HEBREWS 13:4]. Hunger, sleep and even sex are normal parts of life. However, the devil will attack you by distorting what is normal, or even necessary, so that what is normal and necessary assumes an exaggerated position in our lives.

Recall the words Jesus spoke on one occasion as He addressed this very issue. “Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore, do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” [MATTHEW 6:25-33].

We give lip service to the importance of doing the will of God; but in practise, we discover that doing God’s will is incredibly difficult. If honouring God, if doing His will, was truly the most important aspect of my life, there would be no temptation to do evil. However, it is precisely because I am still in this body that these facets of my being are subject to temptation. What is worse I am able to justify surrendering to these normal desires because they are normal—they are a common part of my life.

In another instance, the devil tempted Jesus to short-circuit the will of the Father by throwing Himself off a pinnacle of the temple. By doing this, Jesus could attract a following. Bedazzled by the spectacle that they witnessed, crowds would believe, or so the devil implied. What was not said, and what is seldom acknowledged in modern church life, the crowds would be focused on His miraculous acts rather than placing trust in Him as the Saviour of the world who takes away sin through the sacrifice of Himself.

Think about that! Consider how this is implied in the life of the churches to this day. When we plan a “big day,” we want a spectacle that will draw people. It takes courage to depend on the preaching of the Word and the power of the Spirit, but God still blesses His Word and the Spirit still empowers His people. Yet, we Christians feel we must help the Spirit by doing something that will draw people. Here is a fine piece of intel for followers of the Lamb of God—the Lord will never use the mechanism of this fallen world to accomplish His spiritual work. While He may employ a jackass to speak to a wayward prophet, we must recognise that this is an exception and not the rule.

Is this not the implication of the Apostle’s teaching to the Corinthian saints? Paul teaches, “We have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

“The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. ‘For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ” [1 CORINTHIANS 2:12-16].

“We have the mind of Christ. We have the worldview of Christ.” The Apostle is speaking to followers of the Christ. Those who follow the Saviour do not think like the world, they don’t have the world’s perspective on events and challenges. Clearly, this statement is meant to be universal, touching every facet of life. As we plan for outreach, we don’t rely on the way the world would gather a crowd. Let’s admit that it requires courage unrelated to the courage of this world to plan to reach the world, depending on the Spirit of God to work through His people to accomplish His will. Surely we have heard the Master declare, “As for me, if I am lifted up from the earth I will draw all people to myself” [JOHN 12:32 CSB]. Either it is true that when we exalt Christ—not the church, not the denomination, not the preacher, but Christ—He will draw all people to Himself. We won’t have to work up a crowd, the Spirit of Christ will do what we could never do. He will draw people to Christ, and they will remain! He will cause the lost to look to Christ, and they will see with clear eyes the glorious salvation the Saviour offers.

Addressing the people of God, I am compelled by the Spirit to urge each follower of the Christ—let us determine that we will exalt Him in our lives and in the decisions we make, let us determine that we will depend on His power, let us rely on Him to draw people to Him. Unquestionably, this is a personal admonition, but we must not forget it is a collective admonition for the congregation. Admittedly, what is called for is not the “exciting” way to do things because it does not draw attention to ourselves, does not draw attention to our congregation, does not draw a crowd just so we can boast of seeing a crowd gathered, does not draw attention to our planning. However, in doing this, God receives the glory because He draws people to Himself.

At last, the devil offered Jesus power. Jesus could be ruler over all the earth. With a word He could command, and people would be compelled to obey. Do you think this was not a temptation? Does the Word of God compel obedience today? When the Bible speaks, do people run to obey what is commanded? No! Instead, we read the Lord graciously and patiently pleads for people to come to life.

“Why will you still be struck down?

Why will you continue to rebel?

The whole head is sick,

and the whole heart faint.”

[ISAIAH 1:5]

Again, witness the plaintive plea of the Living God calling to those who perish, “As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die” [EZEKIEL 33:11]?

Witness the heart of the Lord on yet another occasion as He calls people to life. “Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die…? I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord GOD; so turn, and live” [EZEKIEL 18:31-32].

And who can speak of God’s love for His creature without remembering that great verse that speaks to a broken, fallen world? “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God” [JOHN 3:16-18].

It is not an issue that man does not know what God expects—people know. However, people refuse to do what they know to be correct. Paul predicated his appeal in the great city of Athens on this universal knowledge. Recall that the Apostle testified, “The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for

‘In him we live and move and have our being;’

as even some of your own poets have said,

‘For we are indeed his offspring.’”

[ACTS 17:24-28].

The purpose for this excursus is to emphasise that the temptations presented by the devil were temptation. This was no mere religious exercise—it was real. The devil expended spiritual capital in a vain attempt to seduce the Son of God to surrender His position as Saviour of the world. What is more, the Master was tempted in areas in which each of us can relate. The desire for control, the yearning for power over others, the longing to be catered to, is innate in our being. We need to refresh our memories in this biblical truth—“We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” [HEBREWS 4:15]. We do not need a Saviour who was able to live above the temptations, above the challenges we face day-by-day; we need a Saviour who faced what we face without succumbing to the temptation.

The Master was truly tempted; nevertheless He defeated the malevolent design of the evil one with the Word of God. Jesus said, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,

‘You shall worship the Lord your God

and him only shall you serve.’”

[MATTHEW 4:10]

GAINING VICTORY — We each face challenges which we cannot overcome in our own strength. However, that does not mean we are helpless. We who follow the Master have an advocate, a strong friend who is ever with us. We can overcome any temptation if… What a great “if.” We must appropriate the support God has provided. He will not impose His deliverance on us; we must each avail ourselves of that divine support.

Jesus responded to each temptation by quoting Scripture. Some of us are incapable of responding to temptation because we are unfamiliar with the Word of God. However, all who seek to know the Word, and especially each one who memorises the Word, we are far better equipped to respond to the temptations we must face than we might imagine. In the first place, we are equipped to know what honours the Master because we know His will through what is revealed in the Word. We have His Spirit living within, guiding us and instructing us. And He brings to mind what honours the Lord by causing us to remember what He has said in His Word.

Take a look at the final verse of the text: “Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him” [MATTHEW 4:11]. The verse begins with this bold statement: “Then the devil left Him.” That is our goal, isn’t it? We want the devil to leave us; we want to be free of the constant pressure to surrender to evil. Leaning what Jesus did so that the devil would leave will be a source of hope for us.

Deliverance from the attack, freedom from satanic assault, was not accomplished through bombastic, snarky demands of the devil. Unlike what some contemporary preachers imagine the case to be, Jesus certainly had the authority to command the devil to leave, but the Word tells us that “the devil left Him.” To be certain, the Master did say, “Be gone, Satan:” but this was less a demand than a response to the temptation presented. What should not be missed is that the Master skillfully employed the written Word to counter each temptation, demonstrating the will of God. No less can each child of the Living God bring the written Word to bear in any temptation, provided we know the Word and provided we allow the Spirit of Christ to direct our mind to what is written.

Saint of God, you have at your disposal incredible power—it is the power residing in God’s Word. When you use that power, you can compel the devil to leave you. In fact, it is the only sure way that you will ever compel the devil to leave. Moreover, when the devil leaves the saint that has resorted to the Word of the Living God, just as angels came and were ministering to the Master, so we can expect that the Saviour will send His angels to minister to us when we have stood up to the evil one.

Some of you have faced hellish temptation even in this week past. Without question, you have been tempted, perhaps even receiving the attention of the wicked one himself. He will attempt to seduce you to quit serving the Son of God. He will tempt you to serve yourself, or worse still, serve His interest. But you stood firm, and God delivered you by His Word. Now the devil has left you. You can anticipate angels will minister to you. Receive the grace of God through the ministration of angels. These heavenly messengers will not always be recognised as the ministers of mercy that they are. They may appear as strangers who encourage you, as unseen agents of the heavenly realm who provide you with material support that is needed, or even in the guise of fellow believers who lift your spirits when you allow them to serve you.

What must be always remembered is that you are living in a jungle. Though you may feel as if you are on the edge, you must recognise that something far greater than a mere temptation is taking place. Spiritual battles are being fought around you, and the holy angels are watching to see the grace of God revealed in you as you withstand the devil. That heavenly host is witness to the power of God unleashed as you prepare your mind for battle through reading the Word, through meditating on what is written therein, and through time praying for divine wisdom and heavenly grace. Then, as you meet the tempter, angels thrill at the victory you experience because you used the power of this holy Word to best Satan in this great battle. Yes, it is a jungle; but you are well equipped for the battle. Saint of God, take up the Word and use it to the glory of the Saviour.

Augustine, the great Roman theologian, tells of his conversion. He was restless as a young man, not knowing the source of his restlessness. He was a profligate young man who had given himself to the pleasures of the flesh, imagining that sating his appetites would bring contentment. A year’s sojourn in Rome did not bring the fulfillment he expected, and he went to Milan as a teacher of literature and elocution. His widowed mother joined him, and he separated from his mistress in preparation for marriage.

In Thagaste, because of her despair for her wayward son, Monica had tearfully sought the counsel of a bishop. The bishop encouraged her, saying, “It cannot be that the son of these tears should be lost.” She had accepted this “as a message from heaven.” Now in Milan the key bishop, Ambrose, would enter their lives. His powerful and eloquent biblical preaching along with Monica’s continuing influence by life and word brought Augustine under deep and abiding conviction.

One day, he found himself weeping in a garden when he heard a voice saying, “Tolle, lege” (“Take up and read”). He picked up “the volume of the Apostle” and read: “Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife or envying; but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof” [ROMANS 13:13-14]. At the end of this sentence, he said, “by a light as it were of severity infused into my heart, all the darkness of doubt vanished away.” [5]

There’s the key—“Take up and read!” Not only will this Word lead you to life as you look to the Risen Saviour, but it will equip you to resist the evil one, driving him far from you. Through reading this Word, you will set the table for the angels of God to minister to you, strengthening you and refreshing your spirit so you can stand in the evil day. This is the holy Faith in which we live. This is the joyful condition that is promised to all who follow the Saviour.

What keeps you from pursuing this Saviour of all who believe? Have you not heard the gracious invitation, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” [MATTHEW 11:28-30].

Our Lord promises through His holy Apostle, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved” [ROMANS 10:9-10]. Each of us is given this divine promise, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” [ROMANS 10:13]. Will you now come to Him, in faith believing and receiving life! Amen.

[*] Dr. John R. Adolph preached a message entitled “Its Like A Jungle Sometimes,”, accessed 6 June 2019. That message, preached in 2017, serves as inspiration for this message.

[1] Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2016. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

[2], accessed 12 July 2019

[3], accessed 12 July 2019

[4] Carl Davis, “The Message,” © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., 1982

[5] Frank Farrell, “Augustine’s Early Life and Conversion: A Woman’s Prayers,” ed. R. C. Sproul Jr., Tabletalk Magazine, June 1996: Augustine of Hippo (Ligonier Ministries, Lake Mary, FL 1996) 7